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MNO Grand River Métis Council participates in rare ecological experience

As part of their Annual General Meeting on Sept. 8, Métis

Nation of Ontario (MNO) Grand River Métis Council helped tag local migrating monarch butterflies to help conservation research.

The work was led by University of Guelph PhD student Alana Wilcox, who is conducting studies on the environmental contaminants and stressors which affect local ecosystems - with a particular focus on the impacts to the monarch butterfly. Wilcox guided and instructed participants on how to catch and tag the butterflies that were about to begin their 4,000 kilometre migration from Southern Ontario to the fir forests of Oyamel, Mexico.

Wilcox talked to participants about how this migratory phenomenon is under threat due to a reduction in milkweed and nectar sources, climate change, urbanization and the use of agricultural chemicals. Neonicotinoid insecticides largely affecting honey bee populations are also impacting monarch populations.

The monarchs were tagged with small adhesive stickers placed on their hindwings. Prior to release, the sticker number and the butterfly’s gender was recorded (Male monarch’s possess black spots on their hindwings). All of the data was later uploaded to the Monarch Watch database, a not-for-profit educational outreach program.

Environmental engagement opportunities like this allowed for participants to connect with nature and promoted a sense of stewardship in protecting this species at risk. Many of those who participated vowed to plant more milkweed next spring.

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